Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Happens When You Get Pregnant In Your 20s, 30s, 40s

There's no shortage of info (and misinformation) out there about when to get pregnant - or when not to. But no matter what your search engine, great aunt, or the random lady standing next to you in line for coffee says, there's no magical right time. However, there are plenty of factors that may offer a sneak peek into the type of pregnancy you'll have. How old you are? Yep, that's definitely one of them.

So whether you want to get pregnant now, later, or whenever, here's what you can expect.

In Your 20s...

Your Body: After many years of tiptoeing around trying not to get pregnant (thanks, IUD!), now is the time when your body is finally ready to rock a bump. In fact, many doctors consider this decade to be the sweet spot for conceiving because, well, youth! Your body is strong, able, and ready to carry an eight-pound human meatball around. (According to the CDC, the average age women get pregnant at is 26.)

"A typical pregnancy in your twenties is more likely to be low risk," says Christine Greves, M.D., an ob/gyn at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, FL. It's less likely you'll develop gestational diabetes or preeclampsia (although after age 25 your risk for gestational diabetes does go up, she adds).

To pile on even more health perks: Getting pregnant in your twenties leads to a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life, Greves says, since you're ovulating less than you would have had you not been pregnant. Getting pregnant may be easier, too - fertility rates are high, and the risk of a miscarriage is less than 12 percent, Greves says.

And, hey, in terms of energy, it wasn't that long ago you were pulling all-nighters with your girlfriends, so...

Sure, in terms of the physical stuff, being pregnant in your twenties may seem ace, but it's worth noting that there's no crystal ball that can see into your bump, and abnormal test results, or a rogue medical condition can bubble up no matter how young you are, Greves says.

The average age women get pregnant at is 26.

Your Mind: Getting knocked up may knock you off your mental game. "Some women struggle with adding a child to the mix in their twenties," Greves says. They're trying to land that big job promotion while also attempting to figure out how they're going to negotiate pumping in the workplace, she says. Suddenly your midnight research on "what's leaning in" turns into "what's lamaze."

On top of that, relationships are generally newer, and the weight of a pregnancy can add strain and stress. And if you don't have a solid savings account, money worries can balloon faster than your bump does.

But put a pause on the doom and gloom for a second: Your young spirit can work to your advantage, and allow you to be resilient in dealing with any problems. 

Your Baby: You're young - and your eggs are, too! This means that the chances for a baby's chromosomes to develop abnormally are low, which means less of a chance for a genetic disorder, like Down syndrome.

In Your 30s...

Your Body: You've probably heard that once you turn 35 you might as well close up your baby-making shop. But actually: "A pregnancy in your thirties can be a lot like a pregnancy in your twenties - it can be just as low-risk," Greves says. "However, if a medical problem pops up, like high blood pressure or diabetes, then you'll have more frequent doctor visits and labs."
There is a reason that the mid-thirties keeps coming up as a pregnancy plateau, though. After 35, you have an greater chance of needing to have a Cesarean section, Greves says. And the infertility rate starts creeping up, as does the possibility of a miscarriage - between the ages of 35 and 40, it's as high as 25 percent, according to Greves.

Your Mind: Best described as: chill. You're past the career hustle of your twenties, and likely feel more secure in your job, Greves says. And that nest egg you've got socked away certainly helps with peace of mind.

That doesn't mean you won't have the occasional, OMG-I'm-about-to-have-a-baby freakout. But it's likely you're not the first of your friends to get pregnant, so chances are you'll probably have a great support system to rely on.

Your Baby: "After turning 35, your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is equal to the risk of losing your baby," Greves says. But the truth is, plenty of babies are born to women in their thirties who are perfectly healthy. If you want a bit more intel into your health picture, there are plenty of diagnostic tests and prenatal screening available.


In Your 40s...

Your Body: While a healthy pregnancy is completely possible, your doctor will want you to keep a close eye on you. That means more prenatal visits, frequent screenings, and you'll likely be induced at 39 weeks, Greves says. Why? The miscarriage rate in this decade jumps up to 51 percent, and there's a likelihood you may develop high blood pressure, preeclampsia, placental problems, or diabetes.

You may also have trouble kickstarting your family at this age because your uterus isn't exactly an ovulating hotspot at the moment. One in five women who are 40 or older have trouble conceiving.
Your Mind: Your emotions may be pin-balling all over the place. For starters, if you're having a baby now, chances are you really want this, so those over-the-moon vibes will leave you feeling invincible (bring on those 2 a.m. feedings!).

But spoiler alert: You're not as young as you used to be, so you may also feel fatigued more quickly. And if your friends all have kids in school and are off to yoga while you're battling with a breast pump, you may feel a little lonely at times.

Your Baby: Do you mean babies? The odds of you having twins or triplets goes up in your forties (even if you aren't doing fertility treatments, thanks to hormones in your system causing multiple eggs to be released). Truth: The chances for chromosomal abnormalities does, too.

In pics: 20 facts about pregnancy you'd rather not know

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